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Are Custom TCG Tokens The Next Accessory Trend?

Custom TCG Tokens Featured Image

Whenever you get involved with a new Trading Card Game (TCG), you’ll inevitably be using the cardboard tokens and counters that come packaged with starter sets or pre-constructed decks to play the game.

The same goes whether you’re playing Pokemon, Lorcana, Star Wars Unlimited or any number of other games. The one outlier is Magic: The Gathering, which, if you get tokens or other accessories at all, tend to be in the form of cards or the ‘spindown life counter’, which is actually just a term for a twenty sided die. 

So Magic aside, all of the above mentioned games, as well as many more, use tokens to track damage, status conditions and even victory points. It’s the norm for many players to simply use the provided cardboard tokens, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Yet if you, like us, have been to events for any TCG, you will undoubtedly have seen players using custom tokens, and if you have, you won’t fail to have noticed just how aesthetically pleasing they are, not to mention how practical these tokens can be, from the perspective of both how legible they are, and how durable they are too.

It’s long been the case that players have expressed themselves with their choice of card sleeves, play mats and deck boxes; so why do tokens, given their importance to most TCGs, often feel like an afterthought?

Let’s check out a selection of custom tokens, for several different games, made by an independent company called Buy The Same Token.

Pokemon Damage Counters And Condition Tokens

Acrylic Pokemon Tokens

Whenever you buy a Pokemon Theme Deck, you get a sheet of cardboard tokens to track damage, poison and burns on your Pokemon.

As you’d expect, these are perfectly functional, and they do the job well, but dealing with lots of different damaged Pokemon, or damage that’s really built up across your Active or Benched cards can be a real pain, given that the cardboard tokens only have a few denominations; typically, you’ll have 10 HP damage counters and 100 HP damage counters, and that’s it.

If you buy an Elite Trainer Box, or one of the larger Premium Collection Boxes, you’ll get damage dice, which makes damage tracking a lot easier. 

These dice are quite small, however, and each of them having just six sides does make it a little fiddly when you’re trying to find the die with the right selection of six numbers on it for your current damage level.

So when it comes to upgrading these to something a bit fancier and more practical, Buy The Same Token offer a selection of damage and status tokens that really do go the extra mile.

The damage tokens are double sided, so you have yellow tokens with 10 on one side and 20 on the other, orange tokens for 30 or 40 damage and red tokens showing 50 or 100 HP of damage.

Acrylic vs Cardboard Pokemon Damage Tokens

They feel solidly made from acrylic, and they have a look that, while of course not aping the official designs (as you can see from the above image, with the cardboard tokens on the right), does nicely fit within the general visual aesthetic of the Pokemon TCG.

The same can be said of the condition tokens, and this is where Buy The Same Token’s products really elevate your Pokemon experience. Official Pokemon status counters are only supplied in two varieties: Poisoned and Burned.

Other statuses, which are Paralyzed, Asleep and Confused are usually tracked by orienting your cards in different ways, and because these statuses tend to be quite rare, it’s generally quite difficult to remember which is which.

Acrylic Condition Tokens Pokemon

So it’s incredibly helpful that you can track individual conditions using the third party, acrylic tokens, with clear, obvious visual signifiers.

Overall, they make a great case for why third party accessories can be so useful, and can even exceed the tokens and counters that publishers officially provide!

Disney Lorcana Lore Trackers And Willpower Tokens

Acrylic Lore and Damage Tokens Lorcana

Just as is the case with Pokemon, when you buy a pre-constructed Disney Lorcana deck, you also get a sheet of cardboard tokens. Now again, these are perfectly functional. They’re fine to use if it’s all you have, even though, as is often the case with damage tracking tokens, things can get a bit cluttered at times. 

Not only that, but the cardboard Willpower tokens are a bit small and fiddly, though for younger Lorcana fans they’re no doubt a bit easier to handle. It does feel as if the cardboard Lore tracker is a bit too easy to displace, given the thin card it’s made of, and lose track of where you are in terms of securing victory too.

However, the upgraded tokens and trackers we checked out made a huge difference to our games of Lorcana.

Acrylic Willpower Tokens

Much like the damage counters for Pokemon, the acrylic Willpower tokens are double sided, so you can just turn over a -1 to a -2, or use a -3 then a -4, for example. It helps massively with decluttering your play area, and given their thick, solid nature, the acrylic tokens (shown above with the tiny cardboard tokens for comparison) are both easy to handle, and stay where they’re supposed to during your game.

They’re very nice indeed, being laser cut and etched with a lovely, Lorcana-appropriate design; they even have a kind of glittery finish, which really does make them look fantastic.

Lore Tracker Token Acrylic

The Lore tracker tokens, which mirror the shape and overall design of the cardboard tokens, can be purchased in a range of colours (these are glittery too, just like the Willpower tokens), and really add a more striking and robust element to your play area. 

One thing that’s worth mentioning here is that the official Disney Lorcana play mats look great, with their gorgeous illustrations that reproduce the beautiful card art. However, in what seems to be a really big oversight, they’re not printed with any play zones or even the lore track; the latter of which would be incredibly useful to have shown on the mat itself.

So these Lore trackers, as nice as they are, can be used with the paper play mats you’ll find in Lorcana decks, or with third party Lorcana mats that do have more helpful markings, along with the artwork, resilience and security of the official play mats.

However, the Lore Tracker Dial is the perfect complement to an official play mat, or even any play mat above and beyond the paper mats, as it removes the need for a Lore track altogether. And honestly, we were stunned with the design and quality of the Lore Tracker Dial.

Lore Tracker Dial Lorcana

It’s so beautifully, thoughtfully designed; the surface above the dial is etched with a tasteful and very Lorcana-esque design, along with a window that cleverly mirrors the shape and style of the usual Lore tracker.

The dial itself has a reflective, mirror-style finish and the numbers can clearly be seen through the tracker’s window. It’s also strangely satisfying to rotate the smooth and well implemented dial, but there’s one final, hugely impressive touch that we really appreciated.

Etched into the surface of the dial, you’ll see some text. When you start the game on zero Lore, you won’t be able to read it, but as you proceed and your Lore total builds up, this gradually reveals wording as follows: “Once Upon A Time…”. Reach 8 Lore, and you’ll start to see the next piece of text, which reads: “They Lived Happily Ever After…”

Finally, once you get near to a 20 Lore victory, at 17 Lore you’ll start to see the final wording, which states: “The End.”

It’s such a beautifully implemented touch and it fits wonderfully with the fairy tale-esque setting of Lorcana, not to mention classic Disney animation in general.

Not that the other accessories we’ve looked at don’t demonstrate the same thing, but the Lore Tracker Dial really goes to show how unofficial doesn’t mean low quality, and in fact may even mean accessories that far surpass what is officially on offer.

Star Wars Unlimited: Token Set

Star Wars Unlimited Acrylic Shield and Experience Tokens

The last year has been one of the biggest ever for TCGs, with the thirtieth anniversary of Magic: The Gathering (and their incredible Lord of the Rings set), Pokemon revisiting the original selection of monsters with their 151 set, the launch of Disney Lorcana and, most recently, the release of Star Wars Unlimited.

It’s a game that became an immediate hit, with good reason; in our own review, we said that Star Wars Unlimited gives players “great value for money and accessible gameplay”, with  “appealing comic book style art, a simplified product range and cleverly designed booster packs to keep them coming back for more.”

We’ve been hooked on Star Wars Unlimited since it launched, and we’re eagerly awaiting the next set, Shadows of the Galaxy, too.

Star Wars Unlimited Cardboard vs Acrylic Damage Tokens

So it’s great to have these problems taken care of with upgraded tokens (see the comparison between cardboard and acrylic damage tokens in the image above); though Asmodee do offer official deluxe tokens, they seem to be suffering from the exact same stock issues that the game is encountering in general, which is to say that you’re very unlikely to find them anywhere.

One of the things we’ve noticed about Star Wars Unlimited, if we’re being incredibly nitpicky, is that it can be very fiddly to track unit bonuses, or damage; especially to a Base, defeating which is how you win the game.

Having ready availability of third party tokens is a godsend, especially given how characteristically well made, thematic and thoughtfully designed they are for Star Wars Unlimited. Though we were sent a wide range of different token types to try out, Buy The Same Token offer even more than these, with great Base Health Dials perhaps being the most impressive.

Epic Action Marker

However, what we have here are a variety of player aids and markers, with double sided HP damage tokens, Power and HP bonus/penalty tokens, Shield tokens and Epic Action markers (the latter of which we’ve shown above).

Star Wars Unlimited Initiative Token Comparison

There’s also a spectacular, double-sided Initiative Token (shown above next to the game’s cardboard Initiative marker), which has an overall design, vector graphics-style art and Aurubesh-style font that makes it look right at home in the Star Wars universe; the Initiative Token is also available in a range of colours to match your deck’s main Aspect!

All of these are massively useful, look great in your play area and are up to the excellent standard of other Buy The Same Token accessories; chunky, well made acrylic with etched images, designed with both usability and theme undoubtedly in mind.

Our Overall Thoughts

Bonus Tokens Star Wars Unlimited

Though upgrading tokens can feel like a somewhat pricey luxury, especially when it’s relatively easy and inexpensive to just continue using cardboard tokens (as they do the job, after all!), there’s no denying that using acrylic tokens that are intended for highly specific, in-game uses is definitely helpful, both for you and your opponent’s visibility of the status of everything on your side of the table.

If you attend any competitive or casual events, upgraded tokens are always a talking point and allow you to properly make your deck and your playing area feel special; especially with such beautifully designed accessories as the Lorcana Lore Dial.

Grinning Gargoyle Deck Box

Numerous deck boxes now have space for tokens, so it’s easier than ever to sleeve your cards, put together a collection of upgraded tokens and fit them all into a well designed, comprehensive deck box to take along with you to game nights, whether that’s just with friends or at your local game store or group.

They might be pricey, but we can’t imagine going to another game night without these tokens now; we’d highly recommend checking out Buy The Same Token’s selection of accessories, especially as they’re so incredibly well made and likely to last you for a very long time.

Their range goes well beyond the three games covered, and even far beyond the realms of TCGs too.

Just like us, once you’ve started using these, you’ll find it nigh on impossible to use anything less!

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